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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 16 September, 2019

The best and bloodiest bits from the Lions last battle with the Waratahs

Ronan O’Gara lost the battle in 2001 but the Lions ultimately won the Sydney slugfest.

Image: YouTube Screengrab

BRIAN O’DRISCOLL CALLED it absolutely farcical. Graham Henry, the Lions head coach, declared it to be ‘a bad day for rugby’.

The Lions take on the Waratahs tomorrow morning for the first time since the 2001. The Sydney slugfest started with a sin-binning, was illuminated by O’Driscoll’s opening try, had five players off the pitch with yellow cards at one stage and left Ronan O’Gara’s face looking like a blueberry pancake.

The Super Rugby side, led at the time by former Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer, gave the tourists a rough ride and fullback Duncan McRae earned the most deserved red card of all time for unloading 11 punches to O’Gara’s face as he was pinned down. The Lions triumphed 41-24 but Henry and his players were fuming at the foul play on show as the ‘Tahs looked to soften them up before the Test Series against Australia.

The early highlight of the game arrived courtesy of O’Driscoll, who started and finished a sweeping attack:

YouTube credit: Conor Ryan

The Lions were 24-17 ahead when McRae lost all sense of reason and doled out some hefty blows to the Lions outhalf. Sky Sports’ commentators described the unseemly incident as ‘the worst of the worst’:

YouTube credit: Rugbyforlife V.

Current Waratahs coach Michael Cheika, formerly of Leinster, insists his players will compete fiercely tomorrow but vowed there would be no repeat of the “war” of 2001.

What are your memories of the game?

View from Down Under: Aussies’ “British Lions’ whinge checklist”

Zebo, Heaslip, O’Connell and Sexton in Lions team to face Waratahs

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Patrick McCarry

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